With the arrival of Daylight Savings’ Time, the clocks roll forward an hour and suddenly there’s a lot more sunshine for kids to play in. The question, of course, is how, and why, to motivate them to get outside.
Why Kids Should Go Outside
Playing outside is good for a host of reasons, the simplest of which is they get some exercise and some sun exposure (bar getting a sunburn, of course). But there are other reasons as well. Playing with other kids outdoors allows them to develop better social skills, and also, being outside allows for unstructured time. Even educational apps and TV shows are essentially within a structure; they last only so long, they follow a certain set of steps, and so on. Kids need a little time away from that to fully nurture their creativity and originality.
How To Get Kids Outside
Start by going outside with them, as much as you can. Being away from a screen and in the sun benefits adults as well as children. You won’t always be able to come with, of course, but join them where possible. It also helps to go outside independently, such as going on runs, bicycling to the grocery store, and modeling being outside in other ways.
Commute by walking or cycling places where possible. While you can’t necessarily bike to the grocery store, fitting more outdoors time with your kids into your day will help them get used to being outdoors.
Set them up for success with, friends, proper clothing and equipment. A good jacket, rugged toys and sports equipment, and clothes that can take the inevitable abuse from being outside. Similarly, invite their friends over, or work with other parents to set up outdoor playdates, or have a standing time to meet at the park so parents can watch over playing kids.
Ask your school what opportunities they have for outdoor fun that your children might be interested in. Even something as simple as intramural sports will keep them out and active well past the usual time.
Have a regular routine, enforced by parental control apps, that requires them to go outside, especially during the summer. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, just a minimum, like 30 minutes, but make it a part of their day even if they just goof around in the backyard or hang out in the park.
Look for “field trips” outside that you can go on. Visiting local farms, attending an outdoor sports event, going to an amusement park, coordinating a field day with the other local kids, and working at a community garden with their friends are just a few options.
Take vacations to outdoorsy places. Visiting the ocean or the mountains is a great way to get kids to enjoy the outdoors. Make sure to book activities that get out and about, such as kayaking trips and hiking tours.
Parental control apps can help keep kids away from screens and point them towards the outdoors. To learn more about how they can help, try Screen Time for free!